Sebastian Jimenez Galindo: multicultural experiences, a miracle of the modern world

It's impressive how a single story can inspire such diversity through different mediums! Visual artists from around the world are taking part in WHISTLE project, in an attempt to present a multi-sensory experience never attempted before in the Greek visual art scene. And that's because we do not think of visual art as an experience that when viewed fades away, but as an excuse, a triggering event, a reason to produce an artistic conversation and a literal dialogue with everyone interested. This is the way we feel visual art should work.

In this short article we meet video artist, Sebastian Jimenez Galindo, from Mexico.

How did you find out about Whistle project and why did you decide to participate?
I read about it on the internet and felt drawn first to the issues to be tackled (perspectivism in art, mythical narratives and folklore, personal tropes for vulnerability and uncertainty…), and then again to the process of putting it all together: allowing other voices to be heard in a single story and establishing dialogues with several forms of art from the deeply personal and human sides of the story.

What intrigued you?
I noticed that I have been working with every theme in WHISTLE project for a while now —maybe sometimes without knowing. And since the beginning, one of my main concerns in making art has been thoroughly approaching process before any rigid notion of a final result: allowing one context to produce multiple possibilities of action, and work from there. Artists might easily forget that the work cannot reflect our personal thoughts alone. After a certain point, the further we stray from our frame of reference, the better.

What was your workflow?
I had to wait until winter break in school to begin shooting. Then came the arrangement of the footage and editing long distance with my friends. This is a very rudimentary method we have, but it works. Apart from the technical process, the concept part of the project also required time to be left alone. This is when I purposefully paid attention to anything that could be incorporated or translated within the themes of the project. The moments when I wasn’t thinking about the film were actually the most productive, as it tends to happen.

What was your artistic style, any influences?
Depending on the project’s aim, I often work with audio design first. This is how I guide myself into selecting the clips for the visuals. Because the audio relies heavily on manipulated samples and layered melodies, it felt like my film followed the formatted structure of music videos. When I was little and I’d be on school break but my mom still had to work, I’d get up early and watch MTV with my brother. Then we’d download music videos from the internet when we were older, and watch them over and over on the computer. Great music videos are great forms of art: they attack storytelling from separate fronts. The layered footage probably came from watching towards the end of the semester Prospero’s Books (Peter Greenaway’s rendition of Shakespeare’s The Tempest), which moves like a series of mythological paintings choreographed to the music. All of this stayed in my head during the time I left the project alone.

Do you believe in superstitions?
Because of the way I grew up, I was always confronted between eclectic spiritual beliefs on my mother’s part and the rational, scientific perspective from my brother, my grandparents, and so on. I’ve asked my grandmother if she believes in ghosts, and she says that her historical materialist view of life doesn’t really let her trust anything irrational, as much as sometimes she’d want to. This is not common for Mexican grandparents, of course. But whether we allow it to take part in our lives or not, we carry a strong heritage of superstition, of myths and symbols attempting to explain from the mundane to the unexplainable. Mexico is made up of a thousand different narratives coexisting side by side, and the power it holds in its people and its spaces is immense. But sometimes we forget how surreal life actually is. The short answer would be no, I don’t believe in superstitions. The long one would be yes, I do, and I’m afraid to talk about it in length.

What do you want people to see in your works?
I think it’s important that the viewer steps into the work as if it were a physical space. Even if it is a short piece, the atmosphere and rhythm can draw in whoever is willing to traverse it, like the night. Viewership can be active, because it still utilizes a “conventional” structure of visual storytelling —it is not an abstract, atmospheric film, but it can (and might demand to) be seen over and over, like a loop. Being willing to be surprised is very important. Sometimes I think too much against interpretation, and forget that ambiguity is also fun to create because it allows all kinds of surprising and unexpected readings.

Can you make a comment on the idea of collective storytelling?
It’s lovely. Art is built through dialogue. Everyone’s methods and angles are so different and yet they converge in the themes, which are universal and true for all cultures and generations. Experiences have become increasingly multicultural. This is the miracle of modern technology done right.

Why should people support this project?
This way of working could be a reference for other collaborative projects worldwide. It is flexible, so anyone can find interest in it, whether it’s in the artworks or the concepts. It shows how you can turn any idea into a film, a collage piece, an installation...

Why go to the exhibition?
It’s an exciting way of approaching curatorship and interdisciplinary work from many talented artists. The exhibition will be a space of intersection for the open ends of the conversation.

Tell us a few words about the work you submitted to Whistle. How it is related to the story?
I wanted to use the themes as directions to follow in a map I made up as I went along. I’m very reluctant to tell stories in straightforward ways. The premise of the story allowed me to work from imagination: the elements were there but they needed a context. I used disarranged lines from the novel La obediencia nocturna, and a couple others from the long poem Altazor (chosen from lines with the word “night” and “soul”). Then I manipulated sounds that translated into the ambiguous experiences of the characters as I conceived them in a newly-formed context. By following guidelines instead of riguruous instructions, and using other works and ideas as triggering motives, a story was told with enough room for free interpretation —the project’s own aim in the first place.

What is visual art for you?
For me, it’s an adjacent form of discovering language and communication (this is, writing and literature, art of words). I like the way Jonas Mekas said that we are all image-makers, and that some images came to him from real life and others from undiscovered places. Image is the surging force of thought. Imagination shares the same origin. Working from this undiscovered place can only mean exposing the inner world, hoping for a much needed form of communication —even if it can only come in seemingly untranslatable fragments.

Why did you become a visual artist?
I went to film school for a week before switching to theater. I then settled on creative writing and literature. I wanted to major in film because I thought it was all arts combined. This is only partially true: all mediums have their own language, but they are all concerned with the experience of language itself. Coming from theater and poetry made me think in broader terms about the potential of film, about the processes set in motion to find other languages-within-languages. Film is a real-life dreamcatcher.

Is there democracy in art?
It depends. Great projects are the result of dialogue and collective effort. Too much dialogue might turn into lack of specificity and loss of great ideas. In the case of film, some directors believe their work should be like that of a dictator. Directing is awful, and specifically in independent, guerrilla-type filmmaking, when directors have to be producers, cameras and everything else. But it needs to be done. The director is the one who allows things to get done. Dictatorships are always dangerous ideas. This is where the attention to process in devised theater becomes useful. I make films but I prefer the ethos of video art and poetry more than the standards of conventional filmmaking.

The art samples presented in each interview, belong to each artist's personal pre-existing portfolio and not represent submitted work, to WHISTLE project. The later, will be presented to the public during the official exhibition.

Sebastian Jiménez Galindo is an interdisciplinary artist born and currently residing in Mexico City. He is the author of EXPERIMENTAL GARDENING MANUAL: Create your own habitat in thirty-something easy steps, a hybrid poetry collection translated by Naomi Washer and partially published in Asymptote Journal’s January 2019 issue. His essays, spoken word poems and translations have been published online and in print on different sites in the United States, Mexico, Spain and Canada. He has worked on devised theater, with the performances Subsuelo (México, 2015) and Between Now and Forever (Chicago, 2016). In 2015 he began working on a cross-genre film essay in two parts: LAS BRUJAS and THE ORDER OF THE SIGNS. The latter was screened in Ecuador as part of the Muestra Internacional de Cine Experimental 2018 and the project premiered as YOU’RE ON THE BALCONY TALKING ABOUT YOUR DREAMS, at the Straightjacket Guerrilla Film Festival in 2018. He was collaborated on the underground TV project Here Comes Everybody, curated by Bill Turk and showcased on cable-access television in the United States. Sebastián is currently pursuing a BFA in Literature and Creative Writing at Centro de Cultura Casa Lamm.

Find Sebastian Jimenez Galindo on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, BANDCAMP